With Thanksgiving in sight, some of you might be preemptively stressed about that uncomfortable phenomenon that plagues so many of us at mealtime: bloating. Some small studies have evaluated certain populations within the US to estimate that between 15 and 30% of us experience bloating, which makes this an incredibly common occurrence.
And bloating can be pretty painful, particularly if you tend to be prone to digestive upset or have food sensitivities. In this case, you’ll want to make some adjustments to what you eat over the holiday season. But for others, this is less about digestive pain and more about not wanting to deal with an uncomfortably distended abdomen — still valid!
Before you rearrange your entire Thanksgiving menu (which is totally a viable option), check out some of our tips for what to do before, during, and after your meal to feel your best.
5 Steps to Support Digestion After a Big Meal
#1 Identify Which Foods Make You Bloated or Uncomfortable
While sneaky sugars and artificial ingredients are often to blame, sometimes foods that cause digestive upset are the foods we would least expect (i.e. healthy foods!) Therefore, knowing which foods trigger bloat or discomfort is key. Hint: this will be different for everyone!
Maybe it’s your dad’s classic turkey stuffing or pecan pie. Or, maybe those crispy Brussel sprouts are the culprit! Figure out what is going to trigger bloat or an upset stomach, and plan accordingly. Maybe you modify the menu, avoid certain foods, or just have small bites.
With that said, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, and we don’t believe in deprivation here at FitOn! So, if you want to indulge in a little excess sugar and enjoy your favorite holiday foods, go ahead and enjoy yourself. But, know that there are simple ways to aid digestion without giving up your favorite foods.
#2 Digestive Aids To Ease Discomfort and Support Digestion
You’re at the dinner table and you fill your plate with family holiday recipes, but you want to help prevent that post-holiday meal bloat, so where do you turn? This is where you call for backup ahead of time and go with probiotics, enzymes, and anything else to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. Find what works for you, specific to your digestive needs.
Some other natural remedies for bloat include:
- Hot ginger tea to reduce inflammation and soothe digestive upset
- Cooling peppermint tea to reduce gas and bloating
- Fennel to alleviate intestinal irritation and aid digestion
#3 Remember to Hydrate And CHEW!
You’re supposed to chew your food a lot more than you think (read: 15 to 30 times before swallowing) — chewing triggers the release of digestive enzymes, which in turn can aid your digestion. So on that note, really savor your holiday meal, and reflect on every bite as you chew slowly and thoroughly.
On top of this, many of us walk around pretty dehydrated, statistically speaking. So start drinking water early in the day, keep sipping throughout the day, and drink plenty of water between (well-chewed) bites, as well as after your meal. These two ‘during’ tactics will help the before and after work more efficiently and effectively. These hydration tactics will help your digestion work more efficiently and effectively!
#4 Stimulate Your Digestive System with a Post-Meal Walk
Indulge in a large meal? Walk it off! Walking after a big meal causes food to move more quickly through the intestines and stomach, helping to stimulate digestion.
Make it a fun family activity! In Italy, this post-dinner evening stroll is called la passeggiata, and it’s a cultural hallmark. Perhaps this could be a new holiday tradition while you kill two birds with one stone: get some more steps and give your digestion a boost.
#5 Fire Up Your Digestion with Some Debloating Yoga Twists
One of our favorite ways to ease bloat is with a little bit of calming yoga — the perfect way to wind down after a high-energy (and maybe stressful) holiday meal with family. While you may feel too stuffed to move, twisting it out with yoga may help to alleviate digestive discomfort or distention after one too many helpings at the dinner table (those mashed potatoes, though… IYKYK).
Don’t Forget: Relax and Enjoy Your Meal
As the holiday season nears, it’s completely normal to feel stressed about veering from your normal diet and indulging in holiday treats. But, remember: you don’t eat like this every day! So, enjoy that favorite dish and lean into connection with family, friends, and traditions. Put on something with an elastic waistband, and don’t pay any mind to your disappearing abs — it’ll all be back to normal in the morning.
Bonus tip — after an evening of enjoying comfort foods and holiday sweets, consider kickstarting the next day with these healthy post-holiday breakfast ideas.